General Question

amazingcookie's avatar

Authenticity of Historical Facts?

Asked by amazingcookie (156points) June 4th, 2011

When publishing a history book containing a “new” found historical fact, should there be a procedure to be followed? A guideline or a presentation of evidence to prove the authenticity of the historical fact being pushed?

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8 Answers

cazzie's avatar

In what context?

BarnacleBill's avatar

In general, there should be histographic data or primary source documentation to back up a historical fact. Your primary credible source would be court recorded or legal documentation. Next would be first person accounts or newspaper articles that can be cross-collaborated by other sources. Film and photographs document, but are supporting evidence.

History is merely gossip.
~Oscar Wilde

cazzie's avatar

Oh… I read a good book about Shakespeare and the whole.. did he or didn’t he exist. I think it was a Bill Bryson book. It explained about the documents that were actual court documents (Elizabethan England was quite litigious) and titles of land and things he’d purchased, like a bed, that proved he was a real person. It was an interesting read.

Imadethisupwithnoforethought's avatar

When I was pursuing a career in history, some of my mentors mentioned that a quick way to gain professional success would be to debunk the work of more seasoned authors. This exists as a continuous check on sloppy work, forcing the field to be self correcting.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

You present all of your evidence, and cite everything you say.

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s harder to prove that something never happened or someone never existed than to prove things that did happen. Example: There are many internet sites that point out that there is no evidence that anyone named Betsy Ross ever existed to sew the first American flag. So who did do it, and how do you prove it?

cazzie's avatar

@YARNLADY I had to look that one up. It sounded so interesting and I found a great article.

YARNLADY's avatar

@cazzie thank you for the research.

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